Via the Washington Post:
Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta plans to announce Thursday a lifting of the ban on female service members in combat roles, a watershed policy change that was informed by women’s valor in Iraq and Afghanistan and that removes the remaining barrier to a fully inclusive military, defense officials said.
Panetta made the decision “upon the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” a senior defense official said Wednesday, an assertion that stunned female veteran activists who said they assumed that the brass was still uneasy about opening the most physically arduous positions to women. The Army and the Marines, which make up the bulk of the military’s ground combat force, will present plans to open most jobs to women by May 15.
The Army, by far the largest fighting force, currently excludes women from nearly 25 percent of active-duty roles. A senior defense official said the Pentagon expects to open “many positions” to women this year; senior commanders will have until January 2016 to ask for exceptions.
I have never doubted that women are fully capable of fulfilling combat roles in the military, and in many cases, they already have been doing so. I don’t think there is anything they can’t do, and given the training and the skills, they will be every bit a soldier as anyone else.
I’m not worried about that at all. I just don’t like the idea of anyone, regardless of gender, being in harm’s way. But that’s because I’m a Quaker and a pacifist. I do not look forward to the inevitable day when the first official combat casualty comes home to Dover, even though I know that there have been many unofficial ones long before that day and going back generations.